" Quiet please everyone!" The harried looking teacher shushed her Grade Nine class.
When they had settled down enough, she introduced a lean, intense-looking young man to them. "Class," she said, " this is Mr. Steve Matthews, and he is here to tell you a story." With that brief introduction, she slipped to the back of the class as the tall man began his story in a quiet voice that made the students strain to hear him.
" Ever since she first opened her eyes, Caitlyn Rowanwood was an inquisitive child. Caitlyn was forever peeking into boxes, through closets, and around every nook and cranny of her huge mansion. Like most young children, she simply wanted to know everything as soon as possible."
"Caitlyn's mother, the graceful and assertive Angelica, had died giving birth to Caitlyn, so she was left with only her father to guide her through her new life. Not that he was the best of fathers, as he turned Caitlyn over to a nanny as soon as his wife's death was confirmed. Jake Rowanwood, wealthy stock broker and philanthropist, rarely had time for his rapidly growing daughter. At first, he only punished his daughter with a few words when she was found rooting through precious company files, but that soon changed."
"Caitlyn grew up quickly, as all children do, and began to go to an expensive private school where her every whim was catered to. But despite all the attention she was given, Caitlyn did not become spoiled, and became a wonderful, giving girl who would freely sacrifice her lunch if she found a homeless person on the street. At age ten, Caitlyn was happy, despite her lack of a mother and infrequent parenting by her father. Her nanny had become a mother to her, although she still revered the mother she had never seen. Caitlyn was involved in gymnastics, modern dance, and on her own time she wrote poems. She wrote one beautiful elegy to her mother on her birthday, mourning her and her mother's loss that they would never meet. She threw herself into everything she did zealously, often running around in an eager frenzy to get everything done."
" But then a force came into Caitlyn's perfect world, a force which would change her forever. That force was her father."
"Due to a freak crash in the stock markets, most of Jake Rowanwood's bonds were now worthless, and he began to turn to alchohol to ease his sorrows as he watched his money slowly dwindle away. He drank liquer, shnapps, vodka, or whatever he could find to ease his sorrows. As the stock market crash had happened, through some stange twist of fate, on his daughter's eleventh birthday, Jake began to take his misfortunes out on his daughter. His small female prodigy was at first puzzled by her father's sudden, intense interest in her. She began to bring him some of her school work (he had always been too busy before) but he called her efforts "mindless" and "typical of a stupid girl child."
"Caitlyn was stupefied by her father's sudden hostility towards her, and this came out in her poems, which she now wrote regularaly. She dared not show her poems to her father though, for fear he would call them `silly' and stifle her poetic nature. She had no idea why her father was like this, a he had never explained, and she could not understand why one day he would yell at her for forgetting to brush her teeth, and the next day squandering money on her for some new playtoy which she did not need."
" Her father fought desperately during the days to regain the wealth he once had, and then came home to take his frustrations out on his daughter at night. He called her words she had never heard before, like `intransigent' and `immoral' (Caitlyn never realized that her father had become mad and frequently thought of her as his stubborn, cheating wife). Though she was now a mature twelve years old, Caitlyn decided to sneak around the mansion looking for clues about why her father was so angry so much. As she had when she was still young, the girl looked through old files. But this time, she wasn't looking out of mere curiosity. This time, she was looking for answers."
" One sunny May afternoon after school, Caitlyn found a stock report. She knew how to read them because her father had taught her when she was six, and gasped when she realized that this report said that almost all of her father's stocks had crashed last year on her birthday (June 3), and that her father had been fighting to save the little money he had left."
"She heard a sound behind and turned, expecting to see a servant, or perhaps even her aniquated nanny. But instead she saw her father, dressed severly in his grey business suit, having just come home from work. He ambled slowly towards his daughter, and asked her in a soft voice what she was doing. Having been raised to tell the truth, Caitlyn answered that she was looking through old stock reports."
" Jake Rowanwood exploded. With no warning, he bagan to curse his daughter, telling her that as a women, she was not supposed to do anything, she was only supposed to be grateful for a man's protection. Believing himself to be teaching his daughter a much needed lesson in society's ways, Jake demonstrated his mastery over his daughter by beating about the head and shoulders with a gold bullion that had been resting on the mantle. In the most painful and humiliating way possible, Caitlyn finally learned that her father was a male chauvinist, and hated women.
" During the next few weeks, Caitlyn missed school and her gymnastic and dance classes often, saying that she had a sick relative she needed to take care of (which, as her father was becoming more and more deluded, wasn't far off the mark). Meanwhile, her father began to beat her regularly, in addition to the frequent verbal abuse she suffered. But through it all, she never told anyone directly. She still loved her father, and even began to think that it was her who had the problem, not her father."
" In the infrequent times that she did come to school, she wore lurid colours to conceal her bruises, and no one ever noticed them. The only clue she gave of the brutal abuse she suffered was in her poetry, which became increasingly pain-filled. She even tried to talk to her poetry teacher once, telling him that perhaps many famous poets wrote their poetry as a way of asking for help, but her teacher did not make the connection, thinking that no one so rich could have family problems. But they can."
Steve Matthews looked at his captivated teenage audience, and steeled himself for what was to come next. He hated this part. But he still did it. He finished the story.
" Caitlyn Rowanwood died two years and three months ago today of blood loss after her father beat her for an hour with a two-by-four. When the police found him he was still shouting curses at his daughter's still form, telling her that she souldn't be so good at everything, because girls aren't supposed to be smart, and she needed to be taught this. He was found guilty of manslaughter, and is serving a life sentence in a psychiatric institution for the criminally insane."
"I am ... I was Caitlyn's poetry teacher, and I hold myself responsible for her death, as I was the only person who could have done something to save her. Her servents and her nanny were too afraid of their insane master to save her."
" This is Caitlyn's Eulogy, and I quit my teaching job shortly after her death to tell her story wherever I can. I don't care who I tell, as long as they listen, and realize that abuse like this happens every day, in homes all over the country, be they big or small. I can't save Caitlyn, but perhaps through my story, I can save others like her."
The teenagers were silent for a long moment, then started to clap furiously. The sound reached Steve Matthew's ears not as hands coming together in a random pattern, but as a single unified hope for the future of people like Caitlyn.